Pornography

Ethical Porn: How to Dive in With a Partner

Published: DECEMBER 1, 2022 | Updated: MAY 13, 2024
Ethical porn is changing adult content for porn performers and viewers alike. And what's more? This kind of adult entertainment can be an eye-opening, healthy way to consume porn with a partner.
Watching porn with a partner can be a really great experience. It can spark your imagination and get your juices going. Some couples find it deepens the intimacy of their relationship. But for every couple that likes it, there is another that doesn't. Or maybe they think they might like it but have reservations. It's no secret that the pornography industry has its share of problems and the unsavoury aspects of mainstream porn has created a situation where some people who might really enjoy watching explicit material just don't feel comfortable sourcing porn in the wilds of the internet. READ: POV: Trans Sex Workers.

So how can a sex-positive person enjoy porn these days -- let alone incorporate it into a partnered sex life? We at Kinkly think the answer is ethical porn!

Advertisement

What is Ethical Porn?

Here is what it boils down to: ethical porn pays porn actors a fair rate, ensures enthusiastic consent in all scenes and between all actors and focuses on showing real pleasure for everyone as much as possible.

Be prepared to pay to watch ethical porn; your dollars support the companies, producers and actors who create it. There's a reason free porn doesn't cost a dime: Many of the video freebies you can peep online weren't created under conditions that accounted for performers' well-being and livelihood. It's no wonder porn comes with such negative stigma when much of it has traditionally disrespected the very people who create it.

READ: What is Ethical Porn?

Advertisement

The History of Ethical Porn

Ethical porn is similar to feminist porn, but the genres aren't exactly the same. When feminist porn came on the scene, it often considered the viewpoint of a cisgender woman, focusing on a romantic storyline with soft, gentle lovemaking between a straight couple or two "conventionally" beautiful women. But as the genre evolved throughout the 2000s, feminist porn grew to include more queer folks of all body shapes, often with tattoos, piercings, and punky hair styles -- and often being lumped in with genre name "queer porn."

From these came ethical porn. Ethical porn can encompass all genders and sexual identities, all body types and any type of sex act or kink.

Sound good? We think so too. So, to help you dip your toes into the world of ethical porn with your partner(s), we've compiled some things to consider before making the switch. We suggest reading this list with your partner(s) and sharing your unique views and desires on the topics as an exploratory couples activity.

Advertisement

Here's what to discuss about ethical porn before diving in:

1. Any Misconceptions/Biases You Might Hold About Sex Work

Sex work is literally just that: work; a job. Some porn models love their jobs. Others hate working as erotic actors and are just doing it as a side hustle or until they land their dream career. Plenty of sex workers fall somewhere in-between.

Ethical porn seeks to treat adult actors with respect and offer fairer pay while changing the porn industry for the better. So, it's nearly impossible to explore this genre of porn without questioning your own beliefs and biases towards all humans in the sex work world, whether they're an indie porn OnlyFans performer or an ultra-popular porn star.

Some people hang on to problematic beliefs that porn models are good enough to jerk off to, but could never be worthy of being their date or their partner. There is a pervasive belief that all sex workers are "damaged goods" and otherwise incapable of having a good life or another career outside of sex work. If this sounds familiar, hold off on watching porn (with a partner or without) at least until you've examined and worked through these kind of biases against adult models (and are willing to pay them).

Advertisement

READ: Healing from Purity Culture.

Porn actors are people. They can be amazing parents that can separate their work lives from their family lives. They can be caring, faithful partners in long-term relationships and marriages. They can be intelligent and/or educated, career-driven (whether that future career is in porn or not), and have passions and talents outside of turning you on for a living. They're not so different from anyone else who works for a living and they shouldn't be boiled down to a single stigma due to how they pay their bills.

Moreover, porn actors provide a service billions of people consume, just like anyone else in the service industry -- be they a hotel check-in clerk or the person who takes your order at a drive-thru. Sex workers are undeserving of the biases leveraged against them because their job involves explicit nudity and/or displays of sex acts.

Advertisement

Centuries of patriarchal beliefs have convinced the masses that people -- often women and those coded as such -- who choose to publicly display their naked bodies and/or engage in sex acts for money should be treated with less respect than other service workers, or that they "deserve" any negative consequences they encounter due to their job. That couldn't be less true.

It's time we all admitted that sex work, including porn, is actually pretty damn normal and consumed healthily by many.

Read: What Porn Performers Can Teach Us About Safer Sex

Advertisement

2. Ethical Porn is Not Free

We hear you: "But there is so much free porn online!"

Don't get side-lined by this line of thought. There's nothing ethical about stolen porn -- which is what "free porn" actually is. Porn actors (usually) aren't wealthy from their work. They have to get up and do the damn thing every day to keep the bills paid, just like you.

Paying for porn supports the production of quality content and allows your favorite performers to create new videos. Paying them is no different from buying handmade jewelry from an Etsy store or purchasing fresh fruit at a farmer's market. Yes, it'll cost you more (though not very much, honestly), but you're literally getting what you pay for: quality over quantity, while supporting a good cause.

Things like owning bespoke jewelry or art, eating five-star restaurant meals and watching porn aren't rights. They're privileges provided to us by talented, hard-working people. Paying them should feel like like the fair exchange it is.

READ: How the Adult Industry Drives Innovation.

3. Which Ethical Porn Companies You'd Like to Support

The "ethical porn" stamp has become a trendy buzzword to catch consumers. Some companies are worthy of the title, and others are hiding behind it, all while treating performers poorly behind the scenes.

Use social media and search engines to seek out production companies, websites, and performers who are widely recognized for creating and/or hosting only ethically-created content. Bad press travels quickly and widely, so it won't take much research to figure out which porn brands are the ethical, real deal.

Similarly, believe performers when they say they've been treated unfairly by a company or adult content producer. It takes incredible courage and moxie to make porn in a world that's largely anti-sex work. If a performer has put their name and reputation on the line to prevent other sex workers from encountering harm, it's unlikely that they're lying.

Bottom line: Companies and producers who don't treat adult performers with the utmost respect and professionalism don't deserve your money. Move along and instead support one of the many ethical companies that walks the talk.

Read: Why You Should Watch Porn and Not Feel Ashamed of It.

4. Bodies in Ethical Porn Don't Always Conform to Mainstream Beauty Standards

Ethical porn is changing the way we view the sexual human body, choosing to depict so-called "flaws" on enthusiastic participants over model-perfect bodies.

Chances are you and your partner aren't "perfect" specimens by conventional beauty standards. It doesn't mean you don't find them wildly attractive. There is the chance that seeing bodies on screen that resemble people you could encounter in everyday life will be really scintillating to both of you.

READ: 6 Ways to Feel Better about Your Body in Bed.

The people who create ethical porn are often, indeed, beautiful, but it's their imperfections that make their sex scenes so much hotter. When you can relate to the folks on-screen -- because they've got the same stretch marks, acne, or thick thighs that you do -- you'll find yourself way more aroused.

Ethical porn is all about real people having real, passionate and insanely pleasurable sex.

5. Your Attitude Towards Sex

Just like ethical porn itself seeks to do, you should create an open-minded environment for you and your partner(s) to discuss your desires -- free of judgment without pushing past consent and boundaries.

Ethical porn can provide a great place to, for example, explore a brand new fetish or watch sex acts that you'd enjoy doing, but your partner isn't sure.

While you're both huddled around the laptop, talk about what you'd like to watch, but make it clear that you're both free to say "no" to watching a scene at any time. Similar to real-life sex, porn can bring up a big range of emotions and potentially trigger past traumas.

READ: How to Be a Trauma-Informed Sex Partner.

If watching your partner's chosen sex act or kink makes you feel uncomfortable, depressed, or disturbed, let them know and turn off the content immediately. If you're the other partner in this case, make it clear that you don't take it personally and that your partnership is a safe space to discuss sensitive subjects.

Similarly, never shame someone for taking a sexual interest in something that doesn't turn you on or lies outside of what you'd consider hot. As long as you're not being forced to partake in or watch a sex act that causes you distress or trauma, there's no harm in letting yourself or a partner explore niche kinks and fetishes through ethical porn.

6. Ethical Porn Should Fuel Your Fantasies, Not Your Sex-Ed Knowledge

Porn can be a safe space to explore all your sexual fantasies, even if they're too wild to recreate with a partner or outside of what you'd feel comfortable doing in real life.

Just remember that, even in ethical porn, what you see on screen is still a scene made to turn you on, and often precisely because it's so taboo that you'd never want to actually try it. For this reason, don't feel pressured to mimic porn scenes in your own bedroom (or, you know, in public, as some porn might depict).

Ethical porn might allow performers more control to shoot what actually gets them off, but it's still entertainment and therefore no substitute for advanced sex education.

You can't expect to learn how to, for example, get your partner to squirt, how to safely peg a partner, or how to comfortably and healthily start stretching your holes to take large toys from porn. Sure, you'll see these sex acts performed in ethical porn, and the people doing them will probably enjoy them. But the folks engaged in ethical porn are still putting on a show, and they're professionals with lots of practice.

Let ethical porn inspire your arousal, but don't let it decide what you and a partner will try at home – unless you're both really, really into it, and you've researched how to do it safely from a reliable sex education source.

Conclusion

Ethical porn makes it a lot easier to get into watching adult videos with a partner. Not only it is hotter to watch actors who are actually turned on and receiving pleasure, but you can feel confident that you're actively supporting production companies that do right by their workers. Just ensure -- as with all sex acts and sex-related activities -- that you and your partner are on the same page. READ: Sex Communication 101.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Colleen Godin

Colleen Godin is a seasoned pleasure product professional and avid outdoors-woman, though rarely both at the same time. She has worked in the business of pleasure products since college. From the adult boutique counter to traveling the country for major toy manufacturers, she's seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of sex toy design. All those years of hawking cheap vibrators have turned my attention to the luxury toy market, where I specialize in...

Latest Sex Positions